Citing insufficient evidence, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has declined to file charges against a sheriff’s deputy whose patrol vehicle crashed and killed two boys on a sidewalk in Boyle Heights last year.
Deputy Carrie Robles-Placencia, a patrol trainee with an 11-year veteran by her side, was responding to a call involving an assault with a firearm when she hit the two brothers, who were walking home from school with their mother, according to a charge evaluation worksheet provided by the District Attorney’s Office.
The patrol vehicle, a 2015 Ford Explorer SUV, had its emergency lights on as it was driven through a red light at the intersection at Indiana Street and Whittier Boulevard around 7:25 p.m. Nov. 16, 2017, and was traveling at about 14 mph when a Honda Accord collided with it and then spun and hit another stopped car.
The SUV accelerated to about 22 mph after colliding with the Accord, and the driver swerved to avoid some pedestrians as the vehicle jumped a curb, according to the worksheet, which was dated Nov. 16. But the SUV struck the family and two other pedestrians, along with a trash bin that crashed into someone else.
Jose Hernandez, 7, died at the scene and his 9-year-old brother, Marco, suffered fatal injuries. Their mother, Veronica Solis, had a crushed pelvis and other broken bones.
Traffic investigators concluded the accident was due to Robles-Placencia going through the red light without both lights and a siren to alert pedestrians and other vehicles to yield way, calling her action “without due regard for the safety of all persons on the highway.”
However, prosecutors said more was necessary to prove even misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter.
“The People would be required to prove that Robles’ actions, under the circumstances, amounted to criminal negligence or ordinary negligence and that sounding her siren was reasonably necessary under the circumstances,” the D.A.’s office concluded.
When the deputy saw a Metro bus come to a stop in response to her flashing lights, she proceeded through the intersection at a slow rate of speed. A defense lawyer could argue that it was simply a mistake of judgment not to realize that another vehicle coming alongside the bus might not stop, rather than negligence, the summary stated.
The document also stated, “It is almost inconceivable that Robles chose to accelerate and drive onto the sidewalk willfully.”
She may have believed she was hitting the brakes and was horrified to realize the SUV was speeding up, the summary said.
Prosecutors said they would take no further action.